Or – “Timing Is Everything…”


Is the new superhero Jackpot really the long-lost Mary Jane Watson?

Well, no.  No, she isn’t.  And it’s been over a year since we saw her last.  Will that affect how well the book works?

Amazing Spider-Man Presents Jackpot #1

COVER BY: David Yardin
WRITER: Marc Guggenheim
PENCILS: Adriana Melo

Previously, on Amazing Spider-Man Presents Jackpot: After a chaotic series of events caused Peter Parker to sell his wife to the devil in order to give his octogenarian mother-figure another twenty minutes of life, (and I thought *I* had Mommy issues) his wedding to the vivacious redhead Mary Jane Watson was retroactively removed from the continuity, and Spider-Man embarked upon a Brand New Day, metaphorically speaking.  Of course, nothing is every without controversy in the life of Spider-Man (at least not while the current EIC is runnin’ th’ show) and it soon came to pass that a beautiful costumed redhead who seemed to be a model in her real life started swanning around the rooftops of New York City, and basically bugging Spidey to death.  (Y’know, for a guy who started fighting super-villains when he was 15, Spider-Man is remarkably elitist about the whole masked vigilante gig…  You’d think that he’d have a little more open attitude about grown-ups fighting crime.)  When her identity was made public, it turned out that Jackpot was a drug-user who BOUGHT a superhero license and she was soon after killed in the line of duty.  No lie, folks. But the girl that she bought her identity from still has powers, and after hearing that great power leads to great something-or-other, it seems that she might have some residual guilt to work off…

When last we saw Sara Ehret (a name that I swear to you is an anagram for something…  Earth Ares?) she had been verbally assaulted by a thirty-year-old man who still lived with his auntie and worked part-time for a newspaper so he could fight crime.  (I’ll stop being a jackass about Spidey in a minute, folks, I just have some agression built up after this week…)  We open this issue with Jackpot in action, kicking a villain in the face, looking every bit the hero role.  The first problem that I have with this series is the alteration of the striking green/white/gold ensemble that the other Jackpot wore, with the little bolero jacket, the huge bell-bottoms and the adorable choker has been traded in for a standard issue red/black hero suit.  The costume has added inexplicable belts across the thighs, the ribcage, wrists and calves, and has some lace-up gauntlets that feel really familiar.  It’s not even distinctive, with the exception of keeping the “777” logo belt that was so clever in it’s evocation of a slot machine.  We’re treated to several pages of some serious recap, reprinting most of the confrontation from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1, the isssue in which Jackpot I died, and explaining what happened behind the scenes.  We then meet Sara Ehret (Hares Rate?)’s husband and daughter, which, honestly tells me that she has a good reason to not want to be a hero, and Sara does some serious deep thinking about what it is that she has created.

Sara Ehret (Rates Her ‘A’?) goes into action that night and meets up with old-school Hulk/Spidey villain Boomerang, who has likewise undergone a costume transition to something awful, a completely featureless purple unitard with one white boomerang on the chest, and now seems to have the power to fire little boomerangs from a couple of misshapen BIG boomerangs.  The art in his first appearance is very, very odd, with top-heavy anatomy and some bizarre musculature.  Sara nearly gets her throat slit, but manges to pull out a win by shooting him with her grappling hook and fleeing the scene with all due haste.  Given Boomerang’s unsavory intentions to rape her to death (and yes, he clearly makes this intention known on-panel) I don’t blame her, but Sara Ehret (Heart Sear?) is undaunted.  She heads home, and then the story gets a little weird for me.  Having nearly been sexually assaulted by a villain and his henchmen, she proceeds to seduce her husband, even joking about keeping the costume on.  It’s a very odd placement of what otherwise would  have been a very cute scene.  Putting on a pashmina to cover her slashed throat, Sarah Ehret (Here As Art?) takes some of the stuff that Boomerang was trying to steal, only to find that it’s a sweat gland.  We are suddenly treated to the flashback origin of Jackpot:  Sara works in some sort of laboratory and accidentally injected herself with a virus designed to rewrite human genetic code and suddenly was powerful enough to throw a boat right over a hedge.  Jackpot seeks out a reason why a villain would want sweat glands, while Boomerang is revealed to be working for one of the city’s myriad, one who has taken the name of an old one: The Rose.

There are a number of issues with this comic, not the least of which come with the art.  Boomerang is comically cross-eyed in a panel where he was ostensibly meant to be threatening, and the New Rose has fists like country hams while standing four feet high and measuring about four feet wide.  At it’s best, the art resembles Todd Nauck, at it’s worst, I’m reminded of early 90’s Image Comics, books that were high on enthusiasm but low on craft.  Moroever, the timing of this issue couldn’t be worse, as most of the plotlines from the ‘Brand New Day’ arc of Spider-Man have been wiped clean as that book moves into it’s new phase.  The mystery of whether Jackpot is Mary Jane has been answered with a resounding “Nope,” and a lot of the appeal of the character was in the ‘Was She or Wasn’t She?’ question.  And while the story of Sara Ehret (Rear Haste?) is an interesting one, she was clearly NOT interested in being a superhero in her previous appearance, and it’s hard to believe her change of heart here.  Hopefully the coming issues will go more in-depth into her thought processes…   Worst of all is the revelation that she left FINGERPRINTS on the weapon that impaled Boomerang and that The Rose can now come after her husband and daughter.  This is a dramatic moment, sure, but it’s one that makes her seem at best unprepared and at worst, kind of an idiot.  Her new costume isn’t just blah, it now makes her resemble The Huntress sans cape, and Boomerang’s character redesign is just awful.  There’s a lot of energy in the book that I want to like, but the execution just isn’t there.  Given that Jackpot The First used MGH (Mutant Growth Hormone, an illicit substance) to get her powers, I have a sneaking suspicion that the sweat glands are about some sort of new drug angle or genetic engineering plot, but the “I died because I used drugs, learn from my errors” portion of the Jackpot story is the least interesting part of a character that seemed to have real potential.   This issue has two fatal flaws for me, in that the main character doesn’t seem emotionally or intellectually up to the task before her, and everything that was distinct about Jackpot in her previous appearances has been wiped away.  Factor in some less-than-stellar art, and Amazing Spider-Man Presents Jackpot #1 earns a disappointing 1 out of 5 stars overall.  It’s a valiant effort, though, and I am quite happy to see Marvel taking a shot on a nearly unknown character like this…

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


    • This line “Peter Parker to sell his wife to the devil in order to give his octogenarian mother-figure another twenty minutes of life, (and I thought *I* had Mommy issues)”

      Or maybe this one: “(at least not while the current EIC is runnin’ th’ show)”

      I think it was Sybok that said: “I couldn’t help but notice your pain. It runs deep, share it with me!!” :)

  1. Big Money B.G. on

    This WAS a darn good review, thanks! I’ve never really tried to understand the Jackpot character, because by the time I was even aware of her, the “Mary Jane” question had been answered and I was left wishing her costume would at least return.

    So they brought back the character, only left-out possibly the one remaining attractive thing about her. Wonderful. Because we NEEDED another red head in the Marvel U running about in skin-tight leather (well…then again…). And now instead of the admittedly-lazy origin device of “Born With It Syndrome” AKA mutant powers, it seems a great majority of new characters are born with the help of MGH. It’s sad that of all the great ideas Morrison had with the X-Men, MGH is the one that his peers took from the most.

    And speaking of an over-used plot device of late, hey! More implied or attempted rape in comic books for kids! WOO-HOO!!! So is Dr. Voodoo going to erase Boomerang’s memory and return him to jobber status, or what?

  2. *RING* *RING*

    [Female voice]: Hello?

    [Maniacal male voice]: Um, yeah, hi. This is, um, Slade Wilson. Yeah, that’s it, Slade Wilson. I’d like to speak to whoever it is that decided I’d make a hot chick and thank him for his insight. Or maybe it’s a her. Yeah, I hope it’s a her – that’d be sweet…

    [Female voice]: Listen, pervert, don’t call here again or I’ll kick your ass!


    *RING* *RING*

    [Receiver silently lifted off it’s cradle]

    [Maniacal male voice]: Nice rack.

    [Female voice]: I said fuck off!


    Etc., Etc.


  3. Matthew,

    Thanks for the review. Like you, when I first saw the name Sara Ehret, I was convinced that is was an anagram for something…but ever since I saw Silence of the Lambs, every anagram comes out as “The rest of me”. At any rate, I also have this feeling that there were other plans for Jackpot initially at the outset of BND, and things changed as the story progressed and developed. Worse case scenario, we can add another second-tier superhero to Spidey’s supporting cast a la Rocket Racer and the Prowler.

  4. Have they finally got rid of that pathetic writer who thought a married Spidy didn’t fit with his view of the Spiderman?

    I hope so.

  5. @Jason – Sadly, that was no writer. That was the Editor-in-Chief.

    And, he’s still there.

    The poor bastard who had to actually script the story was the guy who created “Babylon 5.” I could tell you his name, but I’d probably misspell it and am too lazy to look it up.

    Anyway, anyone care to bet that MJ’s last whispered words to Mephisto will NEVER BE REVREALED?

  6. The editor in chief decided to change twenty years of spidey history on a whim?

    I’m glad I don’t support Marvel Comics anymore.

    Stan Lee must have been livid.

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.